Purfylle: 1870s Victorian

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1870s Victorian

1870s Victorian Style Gown

1870s Victorian

Each year there is a Heritage Festival near where I live.

A month before the 2015 Guildford Heritage Festival I decided I should go in costume and synchronise the costume making with a historical costume challenge that is held every year. Each month of the challenge has a theme. For March 2015 the challenge theme was 'Stash Busting'.

These two events combined resulted in a fun frothy, and 'costumey' 1870s Victorian gown that I like to call My Big Froufy Costumey Costume.

Although one month isn't much time for making a Victorian gown I wore the gown to the festival using a few, okay, a lot of pins to hold it together.

Two months prior to the 2016 festival I began work on suitable underpinnings and accessories for the gown, as well as improving the fit and and properly finishing all those pinned together sections.

Big Froufy Gown

This gown style would have been worn by upper-middle class ladies of the early bustle era 1865-1879.

This particular gown is based off the 1871-73 gown featured on page 28 of Patterns of Fashion: English Women's Dresses and their construction c1860 - 1940 by Janet Arnold.

At the time her book was published the original gown was housed at the Gallery of English Costume, however is currently housed at Manchester Galleries.


Some of the skirt trims are inspired by other extant gowns from the early bustle era.

Planning Stage - 2 March 2015

Pondering my options and ideas, I start to gather research material.

 

Selecting Pattern and Fabrics - 9 March 2015

The gown concept solidifies once the materials and patterns are assessed.

Foundation Garments Corset  7 March 2015

While I'm all for making do when time is short a girl just can't go without her underpinnings! No time to make a mock-up and correct the pattern, the first version will have to do. 



Ruffles, ruffles and more ruffles 12 March 2015 


Decorating the skirt got underway.

The fun part of every historical garments is the trimmings.

Two Days Before the Festival But No Bodice 26 March 2015

Every costumer doubts their work at the last minute. But when there's only 2 days left and you don't even have a bodice pattern drafted yet panic starts to set it.

Last Minute Madness



I stole from my own work and used some box pleat ruffles that were intended for a tampico style bustle to finish the neckline and cuffs, it also provided the hat.


The Guildford Heritage Fesitval 29th March 2015


The bustle was made the month before as part the 'blue' challenge.

Gown Improvement Plan for the 2016 Festival



  1. Chemise
  2. Bloomers
  3. Stockings
  4. Corset
  5. Shoes
  6. Bustle 
  7. Underskirt or two
  8. Skirt
  9. Over-skirt
  10. Bodice
  11. Buttons & Trimmings
  12. Basque
  13. Hat
  14. Gloves - purchased some years ago from Sovereign Hill
  15. Jewellery
  16. Parasol
  17. Fan
  18. Hair pieces

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